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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

Richard White

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I think something needs to change about buildings being open on weekends.
I myself have found myself waiting in the dead of night at Bramalea, which gets very frequent bus service even on weekends, but the building is still closed.

For a line that will actually get weekend train service, to not even have the buildings open? Unbelievable.
This is like some of the Milton Stations like Dixie and Cooksville which close during the day when only buses serve the stations.

The only exception to the rule that I have seen is the Niagara GO station which is unstaffed but remains open during the summer.
 

Richard White

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I dunno why GO would put a weekend service on a Stouffville line. The line doesn't need it right now. They should wait until the Stouffville corridor is finish before they can implement full service along that line. Or they could just implement it on the Kitchener line to Bramalea instead since the line has at least 2 tracks and mostly grade separated.
I don't know why they put a regular daily service to Niagara but they did it and the line is much more desolate than Stouffville.
 

mdrejhon

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The decision to start Niagara 4 years early was highly political.
I have hugely mixed feelings about that because many optimizations are needed first before Niagara is way more practical.

I think we need more upgraded buses in the interim, too.

That said, Niagara GO is here to stay for better or for worse -- I've seen quite a lot of construction south of Lake Ontario (kind of a spiritual sequel to my old 2015 article). Helping Niagara's long-term business case recently is the major increase of West Harbour GO ridership (~10x increase), and there's some potential acceleration to Beamsville GO (Town of Lincoln) -- but many optimizations are needed between Aldershot and Niagara Falls to reduce the 2.5h ride to about 1.5h which is technically possible within a decade.

West Harbour in 2015 was as dead as Niagara Falls GO in 2019 at often less than a dozen boarding many trains.

But now with over 100 on some West Harbour GO trains [VIDEO] -- lots has changed in 4 years. The GO Expansion Business case (Page 45) shows hourly diesel semiexpresses that skips most stations between Burlington-Union to Hamilton. And also, new track is masterplanned all the way from West Harbour to Lewis Yard. GO trains would be able to go at a very good clip (80mph) along upgraded sections in the CP corridor. Not quite as fast as the 90mph on express parts of Lakeshore West.

Not to mention, the need to stop all Niagara trains in Hamilton, is a longtime bone of contention -- Now that the weekend service is permanent, over 400 weekend Niagara trains per year pass Hamilton without stopping, because West Harbour is still a dead-end station. Hamilton has a bigger population than many stations along the Stoufville line, so I really think 100% of all Niagara trains deserve to stop in Hamilton. More people are on Niagara weekend trains than are on the Stoufville weekend trains, although the inverse seems true for weekdays (more people on weekday Stoufville trains than weekday Niagara trains).

With the new weekday trains (backing in and out of West Harbour) -- which really slows down the weekday Niagara trains. Skipping the backin-backout step would save 15 minutes off the 2.5 hour time alone -- not to mention the other optimizations

Combined optimizations but it would dramatically cut time both north & south of Lake Ontario.
-- Express Union-to-Burlington operation (except for stops in Oakville); as seen on Page 45 of 2018 GO Expansion Business Case.
-- Elimination of backin-backout at West Harbour; an inefficiency occuring today.
-- Rail speed upgrade south of Lake Ontario thanks to new Metrolinx-funded parallel tracks in CP corridor; buildout is reportedly to begin in 2020 extending the dead-end tracks at West Harbour and slowly incrementally builds outwards towards Lewis and probably eventually beyond.

Combined, this will turn a 2.5h commute to an easily sub-2h commute, while also providing the Hamilton-Niagara commute option that's faster than driving Hamilton-Niagara. Toronto-Hamilton can be a sub-hour trip, and Hamilton-Niagara can be a sub-hour trip. Not quite as fast as the 47-minute Union-Hamilton GO train I once was on, but potentially sub-1hr accounting for a few stops. That makes it faster than freeways most of the time. That invite quite a ridership increase.

Such optimizations -- once complete -- would skyrocket StCat / Niagara ridership.

This may take many years (more than 4 years) to complete the necessary optimizations to build the ridership and StCat is where more ridership occurs than Niagara Falls. I suspect that StCat will eventually be future allday 2way terminus once the service is fast enough (1.5h to Toronto, with convenient stops in Hamilton). With Niagara Falls remaining a peak-only terminal.

The problem is that starting the GO train services has sometimes been used to scale back the GO bus service (like what happened to Stoufville). I fear the same might have already happened to Niagara, now that still-highly-unoptimized trains runs 365 days a year from Niagara Falls.

But there is no turning back the clock -- Metrolinx certainly appears 100% commited to upgrading Niagara, and what is recently happening to West Harbour ridership pretty much very well may vindicate the decision to stay the Niagara Falls path -- eventually.
 
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Neutrino

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I know. GO should invest in better bus route, not those useless services. We are not ready for the weekend service on the Stouffville line.
Of course the line is ready. Have you seen downtown bound weekend DVP traffic? There's plenty of demand for weekend service.
 

crs1026

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The decision to start Niagara 4 years early was highly political.
I have hugely mixed feelings about that because many optimizations are needed first before Niagara is way more practical.
Making just enough investment to gain a photo op is a terrible way to build a transportation network, but in this case it may have been a good thing. Instead of a big ticket investment to create an optimal system, Ontario implemented one demonstrably bad train. That has put a spotlight on the deficiencies, and now the Province feels some pressure to improve it.

If the Niagara route had been run through the original RER BCA process, the numbers for that fuller investment might have driven the project to a lower priority, and nothing might have been done for another decade.

I’m not that enthused about BCA methodologies, as they all suffer from finger-on-the-scale dynamics. But a route that parallels a congested six lane highway with development a-building on its full length, is a no-brainer. The sooner we get proper GO service to Niagara, the happier I will be.

- Paul
 

smallspy

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I dunno why GO would put a weekend service on a Stouffville line. The line doesn't need it right now. They should wait until the Stouffville corridor is finish before they can implement full service along that line. Or they could just implement it on the Kitchener line to Bramalea instead since the line has at least 2 tracks and mostly grade separated.
GO has wanted to put off-peak service on Stouffville for many years, as a way to mitigate the constant delays and prolonging to the schedule of the 71 buses. It is not unusual to have to route them via the 407 and the 427 to get them into downtown on a timely manner, rather than via the 404 and DVP.

Dan
 

crs1026

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They should wait until the Stouffville line upgrades are finished. I dunno why they haven't put full train service on the Kitchener line to Bramalea, the line has 2 tracks and fully grade separated, and the buses are overcrowded because Brampton is a big city with over 600,000 people.
Why let a train-ready asset sit idle? The sooner trains run, the greater the return on that investment. And the sooner riders will start making the transition, and the sooner their appetite for the end state will emerge.

- Paul
 

dowlingm

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GO has wanted to put off-peak service on Stouffville for many years, as a way to mitigate the constant delays and prolonging to the schedule of the 71 buses. It is not unusual to have to route them via the 407 and the 427 to get them into downtown on a timely manner, rather than via the 404 and DVP.
Aside from this, the Gardiner Hybrid construction is likely to shut down the east Gardiner for periods of time in the mid-2020s, right? Ideally a plan to run weekend L6s on the Richmond Hill, if only in peak/event times, is rattling around Metrolinx HQ somewhere...
 

dowlingm

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I thought they are rehabilitating the Gardiner East right now.
Rehab is on the sections not being relocated. The "hybrid" (east of Cherry) is likely to be more disruptive I would think, at the point where the old route is being severed and the link to the new being finished.
 

mdrejhon

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Making just enough investment to gain a photo op is a terrible way to build a transportation network, but in this case it may have been a good thing
Silver lining!

The related ongoing work also kind of (indirectly) lit the fire under Hamilton West Harbour GO station ridership.

In a year or two, the (lagged data of) Metrolinx statistics will show West Harbour's dramatic ridership growth that may make West Harbour percentage-wise one of the top-5 ridership growth GO stations (YoY percentages) when viewing FY2020, FY2021, FY2022 data. Stellar data like that (for some of the first few years of 2020s) will only compel Metrolinx to continue Niagara investment including the lure of better Hamilton-Niagara train connectivity + eventual significant speedups from GO Expansion initiatives.
 
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Richard White

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^
Some of the stations don't even have a building.
It could always be worse. When I went to Hungary in 2006 I was heading to Miskolc-Tapolca and came across a random shack alongside the tracks in a town called Budoskutpuszta. Turns out it was a request stop for the trains to be used by the local farmers. I found it amusing at the time but compared to this the Stouffville line stations are an opulant palace even without the buildings being open.

Budoskutpuszta.jpg
joszefs weekend haz, miskolc, barlang furdo, aggtelek 079.JPG
joszefs weekend haz, miskolc, barlang furdo, aggtelek 080.JPG
 

vic

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It could always be worse. When I went to Hungary in 2006 I was heading to Miskolc-Tapolca and came across a random shack alongside the tracks in a town called Budoskutpuszta. Turns out it was a request stop for the trains to be used by the local farmers. I found it amusing at the time but compared to this the Stouffville line stations are an opulant palace even without the buildings being open.

View attachment 210052View attachment 210053View attachment 210054
stinkfountain.PNG
 

Reecemartin

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Interesting - they even have trains running from Stouffville in the mornings and returning in the late evenings. I wonder how well those will be used.
Ahh, just like on the Barrie Line. I actually think this is a good idea. Build some more ridership and still provide options to folks farther out.

Weekend service now on 4 lines: Lakeshore East/West, Barrie and Stoufville.

Kitchener is next!
I mean UP already some of the Line, fortunately, and it's really just going to be rolled into the Kitchener service eventually. I bet given that Kitchener just got at all-day hourly service similar service to bramalea isn't too far away.

A couple of further notes on this.

Station buildings along the Stouffville line will not be open on weekends. Use PRESTO for easy travel.
- This strikes me as an issue in a few ways, no washrooms, no heated building in winter, and I wonder if some folks would feel uncomfortable, especially late at night, with an unstaffed station.

Also of note, service being provided by an L6
As someone who rides the line, it really depends on your location, the southern stations are still in pretty busy areas. You also do have heated shelters, obviously not ideal but a lot of people are showing up by car. Those who are not ideally will not be waiting to long (come on time on the way out, start walking to your bus stop or final destination on the way back). It's also something thats pretty easy to change down the line if we find it's needed. That being said if thats the price of weekend service I think most of us would take it.

Why let a train-ready asset sit idle? The sooner trains run, the greater the return on that investment. And the sooner riders will start making the transition, and the sooner their appetite for the end state will emerge.

- Paul
I think you hit the nail on the head with this, Barrie has had hourly service when possible (outside of rush) for almost two years. It will take time for ridership to grow and people to adapt, but with regular service people can come to build their schedule and plans around it, some people even look at new jobs etc when they have new mobility options so it can quite literally take years to start seeing the impacts. That being said it's a great option to get downtown for people East of Line 1 especially with all the ATC related closures on weekends so GO should do more to capitalize on that. The stations aren't even stops on all local and express TTC buses as they probably should be. Also, time to get on with that new mall by Milliken and PMall and with a better connection and more development around Unionville in conjunction with dt markham. Pretty interesting that they are going with a 6 car consist, they could probably go shorter given how much capacity a 6 car unit has, but nice to offer lots of seats!
 

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